Winds of change — time to think
Mohammad Jamil


There is turmoil, unrest, violent uprisings and upheavals against the repressive regimes or so-called democracies where ruling elite shows indifference to the problems of the people and continues loot and plunder of national resources.

However, winds of change have swept many countries during the last three weeks, and it would not be confined to Arab countries because of the ripple effect. Before dwelling on what is happening in Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Sudan and Yemen etc, we ask Pakistani leaders to see writing on the wall and take measures to end corruption, control inflation and improve the economy to generate job opportunities to avoid the wrath of the people. It certainly is the time for the political nobility across the spectrum to think. Obsessed they are in their own fixations and self serving agendas, they are fragilely in the crosshairs of intense public loathing and disdain The PPP-led government may feel secure by bringing the MQM members back on the government benches, and form committee to work on Mian Nawaz Sharif’s agenda, but people are not amused or impressed by these gimmicks and do not find any difference between the political parties on the political scene today.

They must know that a suicidal death of an unemployed frustrated educated youth because of brutal police’s harassment in Tunisia triggered the pent-up anger of frustrated and disgusted people into a spontaneous leaderless revolt that threw president out of power. Tunisians refused to embrace the president Ben Ali’s ‘friendly’ opposition, and ignored those who came back from self-exile because they had left them at the mercy of the dictator. Tunisians started their protest against the government for its failure to control inflation and corruption, and forced President Zine El Abedin Ben Ali to step down. Ben Ali fled from the country, and meanwhile a unity government comprising the Ben Ali’s party and the opposition was formed. But people did not like to see the old faces, and seeing the mood of the people who came out on streets in droves, members from opposition withdrew from the cabinet. In a society, where people suffer from socio-economic injustice, unemployment, repression, and members of the ruling elite lead luxurious life, there is a lot of frustration and anger in the masses.

According to details, 26 years old Mohammed Bouazizi, a college graduate and street vendor set himself on fire on 17th December 2010. The incident took place in the town of Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, and the reason was his despair due to joblessness confronting many educated young people in Tunisia. His death ignited nation-wide protests over unemployment, corruption and repression of the ruling elite under President Zine al Abedin Ben Ali. On Friday, 14th January 2011, the dictator Ben Ali, who had ruled the country for 23 years fled and went into exile in Saudi Arabia. His close ally, Mr. Mohammed Ghanouchi, who is also from Ben Ali’s home town, took over as the interim President against the spirit and dictates of the Tunisian Constitution (Article 74), which prescribed that in the event of the absence of the President, the head of parliament should take over. In Egypt also, there is unrest and people have come on the streets demanding ouster of the President Husni Mubaraki. There have been rallies in Algeria, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere in support of the uprising in Egypt.

Embattled Hosni Mubarak tapped Egypt’s military intelligence chief as his first-ever vice president and named a new premier on Saturday, as a mass revolt against his autocratic rule raged into a fifth day. At least 102 people have been killed since the unrest erupted on last Tuesday, including 33 on Saturday. As tens of thousands flooded central Cairo demanding of President Mubarak to step down, he nominated General Omar Suleiman 75, a career army man and chief of military intelligence as his deputy. He has spearheaded years of Egyptian efforts to clinch an elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal and tried so far in vain to mediate an inter-Palestinian reconciliation. Demonstrators have dismissed the 82-year-old president’s vague promises of political and economic reform as too little, too late and were not impressed with Suleiman’s appointment. In line with Mubarak’s orders, the cabinet resigned on Saturday and the president later appointed the outgoing aviation minister, Ahmed Shafiq, to form a new government. Ahmed Shafiq enjoys tremendous respect in Egypt, but people demand Husni Mubarak’s ouster. Like Tunisians, Egyptians also want a new order and new leaders.

Same goes for Pakistanis, as incidence of poverty and also corruption are more pronounced in Pakistan as compared with Tunisia. And any small incidence could create a stir in the society. The hearts of patriotic Pakistanis bleed to find the nation divided on various planes, destroying the very fabric of national cohesion due to socio-economic injustice, corruption and the flawed policies of the inept rulers. The problem is that none of the political parties and leaders on the political has the will or capability to bring about a basic change in the system. “For a revolution to happen, it is not sufficient that the mass of the people is unwilling to go on living in the old order; it must have become impossible for the old order to carry on in the old fashion”, said Lenin. The Encyclopaedists had made it impossible for the old order to carry on in the old fashion. Then and only then tocsin began to ring on 14th July, 1789 and the masses took destiny into their own hands.

So far as Pakistan is concerned, it needs extraordinary measures to address extraordinary situation, but the ruling elite believes in only cosmetic measures ie 10 per cent reduction in the cabinet, which will be symbolic savings. If corruption is not stopped, rich do not pay the due taxes, and those who have stashed their wealth in foreign banks and invested in steel mills, pharmaceutical companies and real estate abroad, do not bring that wealth back, Pakistan’s problems and malaises cannot addressed. One can listen to people’s shrieks of despondency, frustration, disappointment, unemployment, inflation and lawlessness. Some leaders talk of a bloody revolution, not realizing that the revolution would be against the ruling elite - jagirdars, industrial robber barons and the filthy rich who amassed wealth through illegal means by using their clout or by defrauding the exchequer. But they tell us the merits of democracy to save democracy; and they call their internecine conflicts as ‘beauty’ of democracy. They have to understand that the meaning of the democracy is delivery of services to a greater number of people to their greater satisfaction. It is more than three years that no grand plan has been unveiled by the government to rejuvenate the sagging economy, without which no nation can advance and progress to become master of its own destiny.